Over the weekend Joystiq reported about an interesting lawsuit filed against THQ by a tattoo artist named Chris Escobedo. Escobedo alleges in his lawsuit filed against THQ for using a tattoo he designed for MMA fighter Carlos Condit. Condit's likeness appeared – with the tattoo designed by Escobedo – in THQ's UFC Undisputed 2010 and UFC Undisputed 3.
Escobedo's argument is that the tattoo's design still belongs to him and that – because he created it originally and never signed the rights to over to Condit – he is entitled to compensation for it being digitally recreated in THQ's games. The lawsuit also claims that THQ's usage of Condit's likeness on its website for the games also violates Escobedo's copyright.
Escobedo is seeking "actual damages" caused by THQ's usage of his artwork, and an order forcing THQ to "detail all gains, profits and advantages derived by them by their wrongful conduct."
It's an interesting lawsuit because it raises the question about whether or not a tattoo artist owns the actual copyright on a tattoo design it puts on a person's skin – particularly when that skin belongs to a high profile celebrity or sports star whose likeness or image might be used in other mediums. If Escobedo were to win his case against THQ it could set a precedent and open up a whole series of similar lawsuits against game companies, television networks, movie studios, toy manufacturers, etc…